That, my friends, is today's Saturday sky as viewed through my OPEN sunroof today. Seeing a blue sky through an open sunroof -- in February -- may not be a big deal in California or Arizona or Texas or Alabama (I'm looking at you, Yarnhog and Cookie and Squish and Carrie and Elizabeth) but it is cause for great rejoicing here in northern Wisconsin. We still have 100% snow cover (except for roads and sidewalks that have been cleared) but the sun was warm enough today to go parka-less. Yee-haw, yew betcha!
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Have you read Driftless by David Rhodes? He is a Wisconsin author, and I heard him speak today in a nearby city as the kick-off event for that community's Big Read.
I had just finished the book last weekend, having followed the recommendation of someone in my book club, then got an email on Tuesday announcing today's author event. Serendipity scores!
I loved this book. Great story, captivating characters, excellent writing. The further I got in the book the more it became evident to me that this author had thought about things. A lot. It seemed that every other sentence had something in it that demanded me to put the book down and spend the next day mentally chewing on it.
The author published a couple books years ago, then spent the last 20 years on a wheelchair as the result of an accident. He said today that it took him ten years to write Driftless. Yep, he thought a lot.
Anywho, I recommend the book. If you read it, let me know what you think.
The event today was held at the St. Croix National Scenic River Visitor Center. The visitors center is a beautiful newish building near downtown and right next to the river and surrounded by native plantings.
There was a good turnout for the event.
The author was low-key and friendly.
And, as always, the hand-knits made a good showing.
On Monday Smokey had an appointment at the VA clinic in Rice Lake, a smallish city (pop. 8,320) about 40 miles from here. (If the name sounds familiar it is because of the news story several years ago about the Vietnamese deer hunter from St. Paul who killed several local deer hunters there with an automatic weapon. Very sad story.)
After his appointment, during which I knit happily on the multicolored striped raglan and finished listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers (excellent, btw), we had a generous lunch -- actually over-generous -- at a Chinese buffet and headed home.
On the way out of town I remembered that I wanted to check out this place.
I don't usually patronize places like this -- too much junk -- but a friend had told me they had dishcloth cotton and other yarn, so I wanted to see what they had.
It was huge inside, much bigger than I expected. This was about a third of the store.
Need a seat for your tractor?
How about an unmarked cookbook? Hardworking lawn gnome who brings his own shovel?
Do-it-yourself dental equipment, under two dollars!
Oooh, a sparkly!
The craft section was as big as the part in the second photo above. There were buttons, but not for playing.
And beads. Apparently it was okay to play in the beads.
The yarn section was generous, but very disappointing. So disappointing, in fact, that I didn't bother to take a photo.
I do not think there is any justification for calling an acrylic/polyester blend eco-anything; I don't care if some of it is recycled.
The only wool yarn they had was Lopi and Lite Lopi, two yarns that are horrible in the hand. Several years ago I knit a Dulaan pullover of Lite Lopi and hated the feel of it; Lit Lopi = twine, imnsho.
Clara Parkes says it is good for outerwear, which is probably true. Harsh yarn = hard-wearing garment. In any case, the Lopi appears to be at least a dollar per skein cheaper here than elsewhere. There was one more stack of bins of earth tones -- browns, gray, white, black. If anybody needs some Lopi, Bargain Bill's in Rice Lake is your kinda place!
Okay, I'm gonna go all snarky on you today. I try not to do that because y'all could certainly find lots to make fun of about me. But the temptation is just too strong.
This weekend Smokey got the TV antenna lined up just right for me so I could watch the Olympics. (Fringe area + antenna only = TV reception problematic.) The only part that I, like so many others, am interested in is the figure skating. It seems the men's singles were on last week... missed them, darn.
But I have been watching the ice dancing. And I have to say this.
Maxim Shabalin, the male half of the Russian team with those ridiculous *aboriginal* costumes, has the biggest damn nostrils on the planet.
Every so often during the skating the camera would catch him with his head tilted back, and I'd think, "Dang! That guy must be able to inhale enough oxygen for three people!"
I tried to find a picture online to illustrate this view. No luck, probably because photo editors the world over hit DELETE about half a second after seeing any photo taken from that angle.
This was the best -- or worst -- I could find:
Let's look at him a little closer, shall we?
There is enough room in there for the entire Russian Olympic team, equipment and all.
Essentials to include in your survival kit: not what you might think. Every one of us would, of course, include yarn and needles in our survival kit.
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What to do with excess yarn: make a lampshade. Not that any of us have excess yarn...
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When Matthew came home the other weekend he brought us a present.
That is a small portion of the two large garbage bags (!) of fortune cookies he *rescued* from the dumpster next to a fortune cookie bakery that happens to be near a bikeway in south Minneapolis. Apparently the bakery throws away any cookies that get broken or mis-packaged. Their loss, our gain. These cookies are actually fresher than any you might get at your local Chinese restaurant because they were baked the day Matthew snatched them up.
Guess what? Our dogs like fortune cookies! Who knew?
Lucy's fortune: "You will be praised and rewarded for a job well done." Is that the perfect doggy fortune or what?
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The multicolored stripe raglan continues.
I am absolutely loving the idea that I will have new sweater in a few daysweeks months. This is one week's progress, so it will take longer than three more weeks to finish, hence, months.
This frigid image brought to you in consideration of the fact that you may be as bummed as I am by Cookie's and Squish's images of warmth and sunlight and buddin' and bloomin' trees.
The above is the first ice fisherman I have seen on our lake this winter. Usually there are several every weekend, some of whom leave their fish houses on the ice for weeks at a time. Weird, that lack of fisherman/houses. Maybe the fish have migrated to Lake Wapogasset, twenty or so miles closer to the equator.
One more photo to empathize with those of you who also are still suffering through the throes of Endless Winter. My deck, the snow carefully decorated by doggy pawprints:
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I made the ball of yarn at left into the chemo hat at right. Hat has been mailed to the requester in hopes that it will complement the efficacy of modern medicine. Damn cancer.
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The multicolor striped raglan progresses.
Yes, that is the same pink yarn in the current stripe as in the previous hat. I was, er, over-generous when I ordered the yarn for the stripes.
The Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan pattern is knit neck down. The knitter measures her neck and, using that measurement multiplied by her gauge, figures out how many stitches to cast on. After the neck shaping, the pattern says to increase 8 stitches every other row, two at each raglan seam, as is usual in raglan patterns.
Implicit in this instruction is the assumption that the wearer's body is in perfect proportion to her neck. Ahem.
You can see where this might pose a problem for those of us who: 1, are Amply Endowed, and B, have added more than a few too many pounds over the years. I was knitting away happily according to the stated instructions -- had, in fact, reached the end of the second colored stripe -- when this realization hit me.
Recalculate the rate of increase to allow for my different proportions.
Frog back to beginning of first stripe and reknit.
At roughly that same point in the stripe pattern it occurred to me that perhaps my arms, and hence, sleeves, might not follow the exact same formula as The Girls.
Recalculate. Yup. Need a slightly different rate of increase on the sleeve side of the raglan seam.
Frog back to the beginning of first stripe and reknit.
I think I have it right now. (Surely hope so.) The good thing is that both yarns seem to accept frogging and reknitting quite well. The steel blue Phildar is particularly indestructible. It is also a bit scratchy, indestructibility and scratchiness seeming to go hand in hand. The merino in the colored stripes is soft and smooth, and I am hoping that there is enough of that surface in the finished sweater that I don't itch to death in it.
For the curious, the rate of increase for my body is 4 stitches in 6 out of every 10 rows. I made myself a little chart to help me remember that:
The rate of increase for the sleeves is 4 stitches every other row, so I am doing the increases on all even-numbered rows.
As long as I don't lose the row counter -- hanging from the needle in the first photo -- I should be golden.
Primary election results for the District 6 seat on the Polk County Board of Supervisors:
Can I get a w00t? Thank you :)
The real election is in April. Now to plan my campaign...
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And now for something far more interesting to y'all. On Sunday I made a New Year's resolution.
I am going to knit four (4!) sweaters in 2010.
Just in case you cannot guess, that is a whopper of a resolution for me. The kimono sweater I just finished? Started in November, 2007. It was the first sweater I had knit for myself since... 1980.
What brought this on? You may well ask.
On Saturday and Sunday I bought two 10-skein lots of Noro Silk Garden on eBay with the intention of making a simple pullover modeled on the famous Noro Striped Scarf. I also favorite-d a whole bunch of Noro patterns, as a couple of you already noticed. I'd been thinking about a Noro striped sweater for a long time and decided on impulse to buy the yarn when I saw some that I liked on auction. Afterward I reflected that I had now accumulated the yarn and the plans/patterns for four (4!) sweaters. My next thought, only half formed, was something like, What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? And bingo! the resolution was made.
Acting on that resolution (and after realizing that the year was already 3/24 gone), Monday night I cast on for Sweater The First:
I am using the Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan pattern from Ravelry, but I will have to do some serious tweaking to make it fit my, er, ample self. Math is not a problem; the real potential problem is to continue to knit at the measured gauge.
The blue-gray yarn is fifteen skeins of Phildar DK 100% wool I bought from Juno a couple-three years ago during her destash; it may or may not be superwash. The yarn for the colored stripes is Valley Yarns Superwash DK, not all of which has made it onto my Ravelry stash page yet.
This plan requires that I not succumb to the siren call of cute small projects like scarves and hats and squares for somebody's afghan. Baby hats for Rwanda and socks for myself will have to be my 2010 take-along knitting; this particular sweater, knit top-down all in one piece, will quickly become too big to stuff into my emergency knitting bag. In fact, I bought the basket in the photo above specifically to hold this sweater project next to my knitting chair.
#2 Son drove up last weekend to swap cars with me. He, Smokey, and I were sitting in the living room chatting and my iPod was sitting on its dock playing the playlist of mostly Baroque music I had put together for a library event last Friday night (that's another post). This song came on (my version is by Jean Soldan and the Lucerne Festival Strings, conducted by Rudolf Baumgartner, but it is not available on YouTube):
Matthew stopped talking and looked perplexed.
"I know that song," he said.
Then he pulled out his Raspberry (I love calling it that) and played this:
I think I prefer the first version, but the second has much to recommend it...
Is proctocolectomy. It sounds like it would mean having your butt removed, but it actually means having your rectum and large intestine removed. You could threaten to do it to someone who keeps farting.
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#2 son son replies:
Subject: Re: Your funny medical word of the day
I tried and tried, but didn't find an opportune time to use it today.
I found myself thinking in bullet points on Thursday afternoon, which led me to this post. Of course, once I started typing, the individual bullet points got longer. As #1 Son says of himself, I can't even say hello in 25 words.
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Remember this delightful carved wooden shawl pin that I am using to close my kimono sweater?
As I was putting the pin into place yesterday, I suddenly realized that the corkscrew-shaped end would enable me to screw in the pin, thusly:
...which means the pin Stays.In.Place. That was a bit of a problem the first few times I wore the sweater.
Damn, I'm good...
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(Oops. I seem to have forgotten the other bullet points. Hmmm...)
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Smokey and I are going to enjoy a free night at the local casino hotel on Thursday night, which is TONIGHT as I type this but will be LAST NIGHT as you read it. Got that? Not that it matters.
I have three four small knitting projects that I will bring to work on tonight/last night while The Bear is happily dropping his quarters into the slots.
1. Second pair of colorful socks. B. Chemo hat.
iii. Second cuff. IV. Medical mittens. (IV = medical, get it?)
1. Coming along nicely. These are my fall-back knitting right now; completely mindless and satisfying. ETA: just tried on the first foot -- it fits perfectly! Unlike the first pair of colorful socks, both of which turned out to be about 1/2" too long despite my careful plotting.
B. By request for an internet friend for her friend who is going through cancer treatment for the third time but the first time with chemo. Friend, very dignified, is more worried about losing her hair than the cancer. Chemo hat to the rescue!
iii. You haven't seen these. I have a 10-year-old fleece gray and white pullover that I love, but the cheap white knit acrylic cuffs are falling apart. These replacements will give the pullover a new lease on life.
IV. Yeah, these were supposed to be for Christmas for #1 Son. But when he told me he no longer has time to go running and hence has no particular need for them, I sort of lost interest. Then I got to a slightly more difficult part of the pattern and had screwed it up and was going to have to tink back a couple rows and needed to reprint the pattern but my toner cartridge was empty and I didn't have another and beside the dog ate my homework and the cat threw up on it. New toner cartridge now installed, pattern reprinted, and it's time to finish these suckers. Plus they are occupying my #0 and #1 circs, which I might need again someday.
I predict that numbers B. and iii. will be done by the time I come home tomorrow/today, the socks will have grown a bit, and the mittens will still languish.
Digression: I tweaked the color in the photos to correct the yarn color. Notice how different the color of the chair pad is in the different photos. Also: the blue in the socks and the mittens is NOT the semi-fluorescent blue it appears to be in the photos. I Could Not Make The Blue Behave.
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If you are unable to shower, say, if you are camping in a place without showers or are running very very late for an appointment, acne pads -- the ones with salicylic acid -- work pretty well to swab out the stinky bits. We keep the generic ones from Wal Mart on hand; they have 7% sal acid, which is pretty strong.
You're welcome ;^)
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I had another run-in with Da Yeep last Friday. Smokey had used it the day before to plow three driveways, charging around in 4WD. When I drove -- very carefully -- to the next little town and back, the brace holding up the plow lost its hold-it-together thingie (technical term) and the plow dropped to the road surface. If I had tried to drive it like that I would have broken the plow. Smokey was in Minneapolis, his cell phone was off, and his other phone (internet phone) was not set up to ring in the room where he was sleeping after his double shift. I did get hold of Lennie The Wonder Mechanic, who sent one of his guys with a wrecker to lift the plow blade and chain it up so I could get the vehicle home.
Smokey drives Da Yeep with reckless abandon, even as far as to Minneapolis and back, and never has a problem. I drive it five miles and end up stranded or some such. I'm cursed, I tell ya...
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Have you seen these socks, just added to the latest issue of knitty.com? I was completely smitten at first sight. Even though I generally prefer mindless knitting, these might just be worth the effort. As soon as I finish the second pair of colorful socks and free up the #0 and #1 needles from the medical mittens, I plan to make these. Stay tuned. There are sure to be some, er, colorful metaphors flying around.
I did this a couple-three years ago and got a lot of responses. Let's do it again!
The rules are easy-peasy: put the image of your current wallpaper on your blog and put a link to it in the comments below.
I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours ;^)
My current wallpaper:
Don't remember where I found this photo. It is a composite of different photographs taken during a solar eclipse that occurred last summer; iirc, the total eclipse was visible only across a swath of the Pacific Ocean (but my memory is very vague on this last point).
Other recently used wallpapers, many of which you may have already seen here:
It's a pair of socks, though, so don't get too excited.
Not impressed? How about this shot:
I was inspired by the colorful socks in Kristin Nicholas's Kristin Knits, of which I tragically have no photo. Suffice to say, hers were far more colorful than mine, but I would have had little use for socks in lime and fuschia and canary yellow. The colors above are more my style.
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille...
The single row of gold yarn at the cuff kinda got lost when I put them on, darn.
Yarn:Berrocco Vintage (50% acrylic/40% merino/10% nylon worsted weight) in 5182 Black Currant (red), 5185 Tide Pool (teal), 5177 Douglas Fir (green), and 5192 Chana Dal (gold). I bought one skein of each from Webs plus one of 5187 Dungaree (worn denim blue) with the idea to make several pairs of multi-colored socks until I used up the yarn. I was also curious about how an acrylic blend would wear and feel in socks. Today I found that it is not warm as the equivalent weight of wool (Duh.) nor does it breathe quite as well (2xDuh.), but it is still acceptable (Whew.). Needles: US#2 from the toe to the ankle, then increasing one needle size every inch or so until I was using US#4; cast off with US#5. Pattern:Wendy's Generic Toe-Up sock. I love this pattern. For the next sock, though, I am going to make the heel deeper to lessen the stretching over the top of the instep. That has not been a problem with the previous socks I made from this pattern, but the combination of worsted weight yarn and small needles in this pair seems to require it.
All in all, socks that are quick to knit and fun to wear. Stay tuned for the next pair, already OTN...
(above) "Double splash. The second droplet is driven by a laser detection and
timer delay from the first droplet. I use a droplet controller driven
by an audio wave to genarate a second droplet at precise timing after
the first droplet."
(below) "Soap bubble and falling marble. The soap bubble is just half burst. A
laser detection start the timing into a hardware controller to control
the camera and the flashes"
See more of this guy's water figure photography here and insect photography here.